Kosovo (/ˈkɒsəvoʊ, ˈkoʊ-/; Albanian: Kosova [kɔˈsɔva] or Kosovë; Serbian Cyrillic: Косово [kôsoʋo]) is a partially recognised state and disputed territory in Southeastern Europe that declared independence from Serbia in February 2008 as the Republic of Kosovo (Albanian: Republika e Kosovës; Serbian: Република Косово / Republika Kosovo).
Covering an area of 10,908 square kilometres (4,212 sq mi), Kosovo is a landlocked country in the Balkan Peninsula, bordered by Albania to the southwest, the Republic of Macedonia to the southeast, Montenegro to the west and the uncontested territory of Serbia to the north and east. Due to its strategic position in the Balkan Peninsula, it serves as an important link in the connection between Central and Southern Europe, the Adriatic Sea and the Black Sea. Its capital and largest city is Pristina, while other major urban areas include Prizren, Peć and Ferizaj. While Serbia recognises administration of the territory by Kosovo’s elected government, it continues to claim it as its own Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija.
The history of Kosovo dates back to the Paleolithic era, represented by the Vinča and Starčevo cultures. During the Classical period, it was inhabited by the Illyrian-Dardanian and Celtic people. In 168 BC, the area was annexed by the Romans. In the Middle Ages, it was conquered by the Byzantine, Bulgarian and Serbian Empires. The Battle of Kosovo of 1389 is considered to be one of the defining moments in Serbian medieval history. The region was the core of the Serbian medieval state, which has also been the seat of the Serbian Orthodox Church from the 14th century, when its status was upgraded to a patriarchate.
Kosovo was part of the Ottoman Empire from the 15th to the early 20th century. In the late 19th century, it became the centre of the Albanian National Awakening. Following their defeat in the Balkan Wars, the Ottomans ceded Kosovo to Serbia and Montenegro. Both countries joined Yugoslavia after World War I, and following a period of Yugoslav unitarianism in the Kingdom, the post-World War II Yugoslav constitution established the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within the Yugoslav constituent Republic of Serbia. Tensions between Kosovo’s Albanian and Serb communities simmered through the 20th century and occasionally erupted into major violence, culminating in the Kosovo War of 1998 and 1999, which resulted in the withdrawal of the Yugoslav Army and the establishment of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo.
On 17 February 2008, Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia. It has since gained diplomatic recognition as a sovereign state by 113 UN member states. Serbia refuses to recognize Kosovo as a state, although with the Brussels Agreement of 2013, it has accepted the legitimacy of its institutions. Kosovo has a lower-middle-income economy and has experienced solid economic growth over the last decade by international financial institutions, and has experienced growth every year since the onset of the 2008 global financial crisis.
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